“Adventurers are not always fearless. They just don’t run from fear.” - Torre Deroche Love With a Chance of Drowning
Your Brave Alter-Ego Is In There, Trust Me
When it comes to struggling with anxiety there is no quick fix and no one solution that will work for everyone. What I am going to share in this post is just what has worked for me and, sometimes, not worked for me at all. I use a multitude of techniques on any given day to try and mitigate any anxiety and gently nudge myself toward being a better, more brave version of myself.
So, with all this in mind, I am working toward a more adventurous and carefree Me. It's slowly working so I want to share with you how I am finding my inner adventurer and you can find yours too.
Practice Makes Perfect
Being adventurous is like anything else, it takes practice. As someone with anxiety, this is not the answer I wanted to hear myself. In fact, probably the last thing you want to hear as an anxious person is that doing those things that terrify you most will make you stronger, better, braver.
It's like someone telling you they ate right and exercised when you ask how they lost weight. Not that answer any of us were hoping for, Becky. Now, how did you REALLY do it?
So, it's annoying but true, and here's why it's so awesome. Doing big, scary, epic things makes the everyday stuff feel so much less scary. Example. I went cave spelunking in Mexico with my husband, which if you don't know involves repelling into a cave and snorkelled through a spooky cave system. In this case with bats...BATS, tarantulas, creepy black cave waters, strangers and, worst of all, no flush toilets in sight. My actual nightmare scenario.
Let me tell you, once you've done THAT you feel like you can do anything. I felt like superwoman for days and days after that excursion. I was buzzing. Maybe even a little cocky. I felt like the hero of my own Marvel movie and it was incredible. So, going to dinner that night, something that might cause crippling anxiety on a normal day, was easy peasy. I strolled into that Mexican resort a-la-carte restaurant with swagger. It's okay everyone, don't get up.
My Secret Weapon
To this day, when I am feeling anxious about something small, I remember something big. The cave spelunking in the Yucatan, hiking in the Swiss Alps, snorkelling to a hidden beach in Nayarit Mexico, bathing with elephants in Thailand; these are my secret weapons.
When I feel stressed about something small like going to the grocery store, going for a walk, having dinner in a restaurant, I just remember that much scarier thing that I already accomplished.
So, as much as I hate to be the one to tell you, doing something that scares you is an awesome way to raise the bar of what you are capable of, and thus, raise your anxiety threshold.
Sharing is Caring
I have learned since starting this blog that the endgame is not "curing" my anxiety because that will never happen. It will always be there on some level, and that's ok. Some days will be better than others, but it will never disappear completely. This is something I have begrudgingly accepted over the past year. It's not about snapping my fingers and waking up "cured".
We know some anxiety is beneficial, healthy even! Like fear of potentially poisonous spiders or snakes for example (I'm looking at you Costa Rica). It's healthy to be anxious about putting yourself in the path of potential injury or death via one on one combat with a Fer-de-lance (Don't Google them. Trust me).
However, when that anxiety becomes crushing, debilitating and incessant, fuelled by some very negative self-talk, action needs to be taken. Example. Being anxious about getting up to use the bathroom on a plane because everyone on the plane is better than you, hates you, and will judge you as you awkwardly hip check their elbows down the aisle. Bump. Sorry. Bump. So sorry. Sorry for existing, everyone!
Channel That Energy
So, instead of fighting against your anxiety find ways to work with it, channel it. Like...drumroll...starting a blog about all your anxiety! Seriously though. Blog, write, journal, podcast, interpretive dance, whatever! Share your anxiety with others and I promise you will feel less alone.
In my blog's short 7 month life, I have received so many direct messages on Instagram, emails, and in-person comments from people about their own struggles, or the struggles of their loved one. Sharing my fears, issues, and struggles isn't always easy. It's not a part of myself I love all that much, but sharing it through a creative medium like writing has been helpful in making me feel in control.
Don't want to share your innermost neuroses with the world? I get that, friend. Journalling is a great way to get it all down on paper and out of your head. Even if you never show it to another soul, it will help purge those fears.
I used to be anxious about telling people I was anxious because I thought they would judge me for being anxious about silly things. Sounds tiring, doesn't it? It is.
Turns out, the majority of us are anxious about all the same things. Looking silly, making mistakes, being judged, being rejected, poisonous snake death matches; these fears are universal.
Share your anxiety, talk about it, express it through something you love, and weaken its power over you.
You're Not Alone
Pushing yourself to be more adventurous is tiring and there will be growing pains. Know that you're not alone and that each hurdle you sail over makes the next one that much easier.
Some days will be easier than others. Ride the highs and use the momentum to try other new and exciting things. Rest when you're feeling low. Give yourself a pat on the back when you accomplish something big, even if it's only big to you.
Know that anxiety will always be there and try and harness it for creative purposes. Write, share, and keep trying things.
Need someone to share all of your stories with? Email me! I won't judge and I would love to hear your anxious ramblings and tell you more of mine.